Finding Time to Manage Employee Performance
by Marnie Green
One of the worst things a manager can say is, "I don't have time." After they review the critical elements of managing employee performance (clear expectations, frequent and timely communication, fair and legal documentation, appropriate measurements, and objectively written performance appraisals) many managers say, "I'm too busy just doing my day-to-day work! Who has time for all of that?"
Of course, the answer is, "You don't have time not to manage performance." However, the day-to-day mechanics of managing employee performance can be a little overwhelming. That's why it's important to have a system for keeping good records and for keeping in touch with employees about how they're doing. Here are a few tips:
Keep a File for Each Employee
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many supervisors do not have a filing system where they keep performance-related documentation. It's really easy. Just one manila folder with the employee's name on it is all you need! These files are essential for keeping the notes, letters of commendation, training certificates, and quantitative performance records that prove the employee's success. If you don't keep these records, who will?
Use a Performance Log
Even if you have a filing system, you may forget to add important things to it. One of the best tools available is a performance log- a form that gives structure to your performance-related notes. Keep one hard copy log for each employee and whenever anything happens that you want to remember (good or bad) make a note on the log. The log reminds you to include a date, a detailed description of the event, and any results or outcomes that emerged from the event. You can find a sample performance log at my website http://www.managementeducationgroup.com
Regularly Scheduled Meetings
This sounds like a simple solution, but many managers say they don't have time to meet on a regular basis with each employee. These are the same managers who struggle with non-performers and wonder why they don't meet the performance expectations. Plan to meet on a regular (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) basis with each employee individually. This meeting doesn't have to last for more than ten or fifteen minutes. Discuss the employee's performance plan and solicit input on how they would improve their job. In the ideal world, if you are having these regular meetings, there will be no surprises at the end of the year performance appraisal meeting. If there are no surprises, you are saving time.
Today, emails provide us with documentation like we've never had in the past. In addition to your manila file folder for each employee, keep an electronic folder in which you store emails and other electronic documents from and about each employee. If you have an electronic filing system set up on your computer, you are more likely to keep orderly documentation, which leads to more accurate performance tracking.
Just do it! Managing performance really means regular communication about expectations, performance, and any gaps that appear. There will always be something to distract you from this important task. However, if you build it into your routine as a manager- having regular, meaningful discussions with each employee, you'll save time in the long run and build stronger employee relationships.
Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Arizona-based Management Education Group, Inc. She is the author of Painless Performance Evaluations: A Practical Approach to Managing Day to Day Employee Performance (Pearson/Prentice Hall). Green is a speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations develop leaders today for the workforce of tomorrow. Contact Green at http://www.managementeducationgroup.com
Marnie Green may be contacted at http://www.managementeducationgroup.com